04. 01. 2017 Pontis Foundation

Housing First helps cities to finally resolve homelessness

Homelessness is a problem almost everywhere. But in some countries they’re close to finding a solution.

Housing First (in other words “accommodation first”) is a programme created in the Netherlands. Its philosophy of dealing with homelessness is vastly different. While some common procedures are based on the following statement: “if one wants an accommodation, he has to adapt”, Housing First is based on a completely contrary idea. Having a stable housing situation is crucial for homeless people trying to reintegrate back into the society. Therefore, having a stable accommodation without conditions is considered to be the first step. It turns out that if a person must adapt to several conditions, the final outcome is rather poor and the invested effort very high.

It refutes conventional ideas

The system faces a lot of scepticism. Some people think that the homeless should get back on their feet without any help and that they cannot be lazy. Lloyd Pendleton, the current president of the Homeless Task Force in Utah had the same standpoint. His opinion hasn’t changed only until a conference on homelessness was held in 2003. At the conference, he learnt that there’s less money spent on Housing First than on any other common service connected with homeless people, such as the drunk tank and the prison for the maladaptive individuals.

Pendleton decided to launch the Housing First programme in Salt Lake City. Housing is being provided to homeless people who have been on streets for a long time already and suffer from serious medical problems. During the first phase, they accommodated seventeen of the most serious “cases”. Even after two years, no person has left its “home”.

Naturally, the housing is not for free and the tenants pay rent of $50 per month or 30% of their monthly income, depending on which one is higher. 

After the pilot tests, Housing First project has been launched on the national level, making the United States the first country to do so worldwide. As a result, in 2015, i.e. ten years after the project has been introduced, Utah reduced homelessness by 91%!

 Housing First in the Czech Republic

The Housing First project has been launched also in the Czech Republic, more precisely in Brno. During the first phase, it was decided to accommodate fifty homeless families. Within this category, there are also families with seizure of assets or permanent fear on their shoulders. The families were chosen randomly and offered flats around the town among other “ordinary” people. However, it’s just the beginning of a long process. During the following two years, the families will be supervised and there will be social workers at their service.  

“In Brno, together with a number of social workers, officers and politicians, we managed to plan a complete strategy to end homelessness; with an intentional emphasis on the verb end”, said Vít Lesák from Platform for social housing, in an interview for the Czech Radio. It’s not so much about the effort to control and manage the homelessness but more about an effort to finally end this problem. 

You can read more about Housing First on the following links:

Housing First in Brno – Czech Radio

Housing First in Brno – Respekt

Housing First in Utah

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